National Urban League Meets to SaveOurCities
By J. K. Schmid, Special to the AFROThe 2018 National Urban League Conference opened August 1 in Columbus, Ohio.The four day event, hosted by one of the nation’s largest civil rights organization, promises to bring “the nation’s most influential community leaders, together with top policy-makers, business leaders, leading experts, celebrities and media for four days of dynamic dialogue, networking and entertainment,” according to its website.National Urban League President Marc Morial (center) closes the opening press conference of the Nat’l Urban League in Columbus, Ohio. (Courtesy Photo)The league expects almost 20,000 to attend an event that will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding. It estimates 10,000 local to the Columbus metropolitan area will attend and the remainder will come from across the nation.Community leaders in attendance will include, April Reign, creator of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, Tarana Burke, creator of the #MeTooMovement, and Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.Business leaders expected to attend include; Richelieu Dennis, the Liberian-born founder of Shea Moisture who recently acquired Essence Communications (including Essence Magazine) in January, Michelle Ebanks, CEO of Essence Communications and Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook.Policy makers slated to speak cover the range from local to national. Franklin County, Ohio, commissioner Kevin L. Boyce, former Columbus mayor Michael B. Coleman, and U.S. House Representative Joyce Beatty (OH-3rd District),The top-billed entertainment is Fantasia Barrino-Taylor, third season winner of “American Idol” and three-time NAACP Image Award winner.Columbus “is one of America’s hidden gems,” Marc Morial, CEO and president of the National Urban League, wrote on Twitter, explaining the selection to host the event. The U.S. census ranks Columbus as the eighth-fastest growing city in a 2018 report.The conference comes in the wake of the league’s State of Black America town hall July 29. The conference is similarly focused on technology: the digital divide and how to maximize opportunities from emerging technologies.“The goal of the National Urban League Conference is to empower Black and brown people and prepare them for the new digital economy,” former U.S.A. Track and Field team hurdler and President and CEO of the Columbus National Urban League, Stephanie Hightower said.The league’s live updates of the goings on in Columbus are hashtagged #SaveOurCities.